Buy Fresh! Store with care…

I find that my enthusiasm for freshness gets the better of me and I occasionally buy too much. What!? You too? So last night I was reassessing and looking at the new veggies I picked up at the store. I needed to get carrots and celery for my soup, and now I have extra. Have you ever purchased these soup stock must-haves, only to find that you only needed two of each and the others got soft and rubbery?

So I went on the search for answers to keeping my leftover veggies fresh until I use them up. With the carrots and celery I discovered that the answer was water. Yup ~ water.

Let’s start back a step. When you come home from the store you should store each fresh item carefully. That means that some go in the fridge, some go in your pantry, and some go on the counter or a food storage shelf. There are a number of good produce charts out there http://cleangreensimple.com/2011/05/storing-food-and-produce/. This one from Clean Green Simple is user friendly and can be printed for easy posting in some easy place in your kitchen.

I found that I was storing a lot of things in the wrong place and when I corrected this, they lasted longer. Storing tomatoes incorrectly was my first big mistake. I always put them in the fridge! Oops! No more. They are stored on the counter. Frankly, I use them so quickly now that they are seldom there very long! My other big mistake was storing my potatoes and onions together. I have baskets for these on a food rack. Well, I used to have ONE basket, but now I have two!

When I get home from the store, I try my best to store my produce properly now. I also clean and prepare my produce for easy use when I need it. Now some things should NOT be washed until use, but some can be. The above chart gives good information on this too. Remember that I am obsessive and read about each one of nature’s gifts separately, so I look for guidance on choosing and storing when I do this research.

So what about the celery and carrots, you ask? I have sadly thrown away too many of these in the past. Here is what I read from more than one source, tried, and works for me. I prepare the celery and cut it into logs, if you will. The carrots are peeled, prepped and also cut. Each must be stored on its own, of course. Put the carrots in a container, add water until they are covered, and put on a lid. Do the same with the celery. When you are ready, they will be too.

I understand this will keep them fresh up to two weeks, though I confess I have never stored them that long. Do change the water every couple of days. The better care you take of your precious produce, the fresher and more delicious it will be.

The best produce is fresh and healthy but it is also fragile and perishable. When you can, buy and use your fresh goods immediately. When you need to store, even for a week between trips to the Farmers’ Market, do it well so your investment is preserved. It is not only a financial investment, but one of good health!

Next time you come home with fresh goods . . . handle with care!

And, as always ~ ENJOY!

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Waste not! Using your reserves . . . and planned leftovers!

After a weekend away I had to stop and assess my food stocks. Time to go look at the fridge, pantry, and food racks and see what was neglected. Sometimes we buy with all good intentions and then life has other plans. And as we left for the Boston wedding weekend, Courtney and Mackenzie spent a night at our house, so they ate some good food too.

Waste not people! I look at my baskets and have 2 vine tomatoes, red potatoes, onions, and … ahem … a small butternut squash. In the fridge I still have a romaine heart, one Belgian endive, carrots, a green pepper, a red pepper and broccoli. (I guess the girls ate the Brussels sprouts.) What is for dinner tonight?

I had to go to the store and get deli meat to pack Barry’s lunch yesterday (yes, I pack my hubby’s lunch) and while there I grabbed some ground beef and chicken breasts on sale. So now for the dinner plans.

Here goes:
For Barry ~ stuffed peppers . . . I will use the ground beef and the peppers. He will have one tonight and a planned leftover for tomorrow.
For me ~ pan prepared chicken breast, making enough for a planned leftover for tomorrow

For both of us ~ a small side salad using the romaine heart, the endive, and the tomato.

Then as a warm side ~ roasted potatoes, onions, butternut squash and carrots. And I will likely steam the broccoli…but I will save it for tomorrow as it is fresher than the others. . . planned leftover.

So many good veggies, and each of us enjoying something good.

So folks, do yourself a favor. Go shopping in your own kitchen and pantry. Use the fresh goodness there and plan some leftovers too.

Eat fresh! And enjoy!

Mmmm……time to Nosh!

Let’s Talk Leftovers!

When the girls were little, I thought that I was a ‘bad’ mommy if I served leftovers. I mean, I was a stay-at-home mom and thought part of my job was putting a hot meal on the table each night. Barry thought that was silly, but he let it go after telling me so. He was always happy with dinner and there was no critique in those days because he knew that I was doing my best on a very limited budget, and raising two active little girls. And if they were sick, as sadly they often were when they were little, it was a chore to put any meal on the table.

Carrying that silly idea for too long, I have not only let go of my guilt over serving leftovers, I plan them! Just look back at the topics of this blog and you’ll know what we have been eating. I made chili and invited Mark for dinner. There was enough left over for two more meals for Barry. I made chicken noodle soup. This was lunch and two dinners. Frittatas and quinoa were dinner for me while Barry ate three cheese mac.

So when I came home yesterday with kale (which I enjoyed as crispy kale chips yesterday), broccoli, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, an English cucumber, apples, and oranges, and then hubby said, “Let’s go for a ride!”, I was not concerned. We ate dinner out. Wait! But you just bought all of that fresh food, you say!? No worries. Dinner tonight will include several of yesterday’s purchases, while incorporating restaurant leftovers.

When we go out to eat, we no longer order big meals. We either order one meal we both enjoy and share it, or we order and share appetizers or small plates. There are a few meals, however, that Barry loves when we go out to eat but are too high in carbs for me to dare. So last night we went to a lovely little family place in Carbondale, PA called Alexander’s http://local.yahoo.com/info-12131771-alexanders-family-restaurant-jermyn. Barry had a pasta dish with chicken and broccoli covered in a creamy garlic sauce. It comes out looking like a serving dish for a family of four! He ate half of it and brought half home.

Tonight for dinner I will do this. Barry’s dish will be warmed and to it I will add fresh steamed broccoli. To that I will add a fresh salad. My meal will be that salad, chicken (I bought that yesterday too.) and steamed broccoli. Nothing is wasted. The dish he loves is freshened up. Since we are both eating similar meals, I don’t feel like a short order cook, and Barry can enjoy the leftovers from the meal he loved.

I said that I plan meals and this is what I mean. The chicken I bought yesterday will be dinner tonight for me, but also dinner for both of us in some fashion tomorrow. I will cook more than I need so I have leftovers to be incorporated into the next meal. (See Flavors of Fall ~ Momma’s Chicken Noodle Soup for easy and delicious chicken preparation https://neatnosh.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/flavors-of-fall-mommas-chicken-noodle-soup/.) When I made quinoa, the recipe provided me with 2 cups of quinoa. A portion is ¼ cup. So I had ample to have quinoa for breakfast with an egg, lunch with cheese, and dinner with a frittata for a few days.

Plan and make fresh, healthy meals. Enjoy the leftovers. Freshen them up with something new. Go check your fridge! Don’t waste good food!

Buy fresh! Eat fresh!

Enjoy!